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In Memorium: Little Richard – An Essential American

Richard Wayne Penniman: A flawed and complex man. A great soul. He kept the deal and kept it real by always being the real deal. He was lost and saved and lost and saved again. He was straight. He was gay. He was straight once again. He was “the Innovator, The Originator, and The Architect of Rock and Roll” He was Funk. He was Soul. He was Gospel. He was of Rock and Roll. Like Whitman, Little Richard was “vast and contained multitudes.”

I can’t think of any eulogy that could sum up such a complex amalgam of a life.

In a way, this British guitarist’s fascinating if verbose analysis of his talent and how he deployed it is better than a eulogy on this essential American.

After all Little Richard not only always had the groove he was always so very eager to share.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Lance de Boyle May 22, 2020, 10:49 AM

    Shortly before he passed.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTXfx4h4iPs

    As it goes on, he gets funnier. Richard the rock and roller comes out.

  • ghostsniper May 22, 2020, 2:36 PM

    Dood looked like a cadaver the last time I saw him, maybe 10 years ago.

  • jwm May 22, 2020, 4:02 PM

    Got a note from an old friend on Little Richard. He went to the Shrine Auditorium in 1970 to see Country Joe & the Fish. Little Richard was the opening act. LR was rockin’ hard. He invited the audience to join him on stage. The stage got mobbed, everyone jumpin’ and dancin’. Then it collapsed, with a crash. That ended the show. My friend never did get to see Country Joe & the Fish.

    JWM

  • Gordon Scott May 23, 2020, 7:53 AM

    Your friend had the great concert experience. That’s a lifetime of beer stories right there. Who under 58 even remembers Country Joe and the Fish?

  • Fuel Filter May 23, 2020, 8:45 AM

    jwm, I hate to say it but your friend’s memory is clouded at best, perhaps due to all the weed being smoked at that concert.

    I was there.

    a) It wasn’t the Shrine. It was the old boxing arena called the Olympic Auditorium just about a mile South of L.A. City Hall circa 1971.

    b) Little Richard wasn’t the opening act. It was Albert King (RIP). Richard came on as the second act. Country Joe was the headliner (I could have given a rat’s ass about them. I just wanted to see Albert King and Richard).

    Now, for a bit of context. The L. A. City Council and police chief Gates knew damn well there were gonna be a ton of those “Damn Dirty Hippies” attending so that fucking bastard had close to 100 cops waiting outside before the concert even started.

    During King’s set the cops slowly started taking positions around the perimeters of the lower and three upper decks.

    While Richard’s roadies were setting up more and more cops showed up. The audience members were gettin’ real fuckin’ uneasy. Richard started his set…

    ‘Bout halfway thru he was kicking some real ass and, in the middle of a kick-ass song started inviting crowd members up on the stage. The dope smoke was heavy in the air.

    Then the cops rushed the crowd on all levels making mass arrests and dragging people out in cuffs by the arms, hair, legs and to paddy wagons and vans. Richard was still playing.

    All of a sudden the stage collapsed in a huge cloud of smoke and dust and everything on it disappeared in said cloud. Every one who wasn’t arrested rushed the exits and split post haste. My friend and I made it out alive and free from the tender mercies of the (To Protect and Serve ) LAPD who, after all, were “just following orders”…you know, the Nuremberg Defense.

    So, that’s the real story from someone who was actually there that fateful night.

  • Fuel Filter May 23, 2020, 8:57 AM

    Didn’t make this part clear. The stage collapsed due to the weight of all the people on the stage.

    It was, after all, a makeshift venue. The Shrine Pinnacle lease had run out and the promoter (Bill Graham, I believe) was using the Olympic as a temporary venue. Ultimately the concerts were moved to the Rose Palace in Pasadena, about 15-20 miles East of Downtown L. A. under a different promoter. Graham gave up on SoCal.

    The Rose was one great venue! Saw, among may others, Zep the second time they came to the LA area, Iron B, Mayal, Erick Burden and War and soooo many other great bands.

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